Citizen Journalism

Kerrie Tucker

Kerrie Tucker

Kerrie Tucker

Kerrie has worked as an environmental and human rights activist since the 1980s. From 1995 to 2004, she represented the ACT Greens for three terms as Member for Molonglo in the ACT Legislative Assembly and has since worked as Executive Officer for ACT Shelter, advocating for the needs of people experiencing homelessness and housing stress. In 2005 and 2006, she was co-chair of Anti-Poverty Week in the ACT and continues to contribute to the community on a voluntary basis through her work as an individual member of the ACT Collaboration.

At the Australia Institute, Kerrie’s part-time work involves community liaison. She engages with key policy makers, NGOs and the broader community to update them on the Institute’s research findings, to seek their views on policy matters and to work collaboratively with them where possible to enable evidence-based development of public policy.

  1. Good story! I have been ‘flapping my wings’ on the same subject matter for several years http://arrow.unisa.edu.au:8081/1959.8/119064 and I think the current national and international concern in the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria is justified. It all boils down to how we “use” and “misuse” of antibiotics.

    Australia doesn’t use antibiotics for growth promotion purposes in animal production systems, but they can be used in medicated feeds. I’m not sure of practices in other countries where regulations are far less stringent. This is a potential problem, since we demand ‘cheap produce’ in an international market. Such cheap food may come at a cost of infecting consumers with antibiotic-resistant bacteria: this would be disastrous, since it would not be possible to effectively treat the disease(s).

    It is not widely known that 80% or so of ingested antibiotic is excreted in human waste. This ends up being dried and made into ‘biosolids’ that are applied to nutrient impoverished agricultural land for wheat and barley production (enjoying that beer? kidding). Other countries use ‘similar processes’ overseas. A potential problem is that bacteria live in soil. Of particular concern is Mycobacterium tuberculosis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycobacterium_tuberculosis (TB; I think Nelson Mandela is being treated for TB). These bacteria are in the soil and the disease can take many years to develop. Moreover, spores (seeds) of many bacteria can also last many years.

    So; what do we do? we load up agricultural land with antibiotics and their bioactive metabolites
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/164979u1303k3545/
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/a3613p77n81010w4/
    (plus an ‘ongoing’ paper) and then we grow our produce in it; we import produce from other countries which have ‘less stringent’ regulations ‘and then’ we wonder why there is an increase in the occurrence antibiotic resistant bacterial infections! Well duhhh! (just kidding here ;-).

    I saw a TV program the other night in which agricultural dust from the ‘Dust Bowl’ http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=http://www.weru.ksu.edu/new_weru/multimedia/dustbowl/big/theb1365.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.weru.ksu.edu/new_weru/multimedia/dustbowl/dustbowlpics.html&h=908&w=1388&sz=182&tbnid=Kyornjkti6yzNM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=138&zoom=1&usg=__egkaQpa57pWlpTYtuus8hg2kibE=&docid=jJlRp1lBEuWXmM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QjRaUfqENsHbkQWiqYGYDQ&sqi=2&ved=0CEAQ9QEwAg&dur=1712 in the US caused “dust pneumonia” in the very young http://www.rmpbs.org/panorama/index.cfm/entry/574/Dust-pneumonia-the-brown-plague . I doubt that they used biosolids (contain antibiotics) in the 30’s; but we now do, and bacteria stick to soil particles. We should take great care of our environment and reduce the likelihood of spreading antibiotic resistant bacterial diseases.

    At the very least, we should be monitoring: the environment (an ‘ongoing’ paper), food produce and antibiotic (mis)usage. We should also be developing new antibiotics and/or treatment regimens…

    Call Pan Chemistry (self-promo. by Gareth ;-).

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